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Wednesday 22 May 2024

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Bold Reynold – David Carroll & Friends.

Jan 19, 2023

With a career which’s seen him swap stages for workshops and later sessions Dave Carroll has a wider experience than most of the folk scene. Mixing roles as instrument maker with that of a performer he’s qualified to see what goes on from different angles,  more recently he’s added to his CV by supporting others in concert and in the studio, garnering a roll call of the well known along the way. Count among them core members of Fairport Convention, most of Gryphon and The Men They Couldn’t Hang. All told it’s not a bad crew when the prospect of an album bearing his name was raised. Though he was used to club level performances where matters were chiefly acoustic and the only powered objects were microphones and the house lights, Mr. Carroll was determined he’d pursue the electric path or as he put it to me ” I’d already built up a collection of material with folk rock arrangements.”

Locating proceedings in Graeme Taylor’s studio with Brain Gulland and Dave Oberle as perma-presences means that there is much that’s Gryphon like from the crumhorn breaks to Taylor’s fierce electric  guitar-  especially effective on the ‘Foxhunter’s Jig,’ yet that never overpowers Carroll’s ideas and settings. Likewise the familiar bass of Dave Pegg and Chris Leslie’s fiddle could suggest Fairport but assured production and sympathetic desk work from Taylor means no one dominates and balance is kept.

The songs, well they’re familiar, not over done but many reading will know ‘She Moves Through The Fair,’ ‘Banks Of The Nile,’ ‘Poor Murdered Woman,’ whilst his choice of covers includes ‘The Battle’ from the pen of Strawbs leader Dave Cousins. David Carroll is a rooted, earthy vocalist so where reflection and regret mingle he allows Dave Oberle and Lucy Cooper to handle lead vocals. Oberle gets right inside ‘Poor Murdered Woman,’ whilst Cooper’s voice is perfect for handling the tangled romantics in a stark ‘Banks of the Nile.’ Across the album the band’s unusual textures are applied by either David on pipes and Brain Gulland ( bassoon) though due honours to Tom Spencer from TMTCH for banjo flailing. The whole ensemble work up a lather and readily ride flat out at relevant points, the best of which to these ears is a boisterous reading of ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow.’  However there is much to make you smile herein. The title track is a variation of  Fairport’s ‘Reynard The Fox,’ which was on ‘Tippler’s Tales’ their last studio album of the 70s, this version’s still a riot of hunting, drinking and merriment.

So, recommended then and with the enticing prospect of a follow up at some point, much depends on you dear reader. Recording your own album is an expensive business and Mr. Carroll ever grounded, deserves your support for his efforts. Talking Elephant have wisely picked up his debut, let’s hope before too long we get news of his second offering. Electric folk and proud of it.

Simon Jones.


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